A well-made knife is the most versatile, long-lasting and handy tool one could have. But differentiating knives depending on their quality with just one look is not easy. The material used in the process of making the blade affects its durability in a great way. As knives are made of steel and steel is an alloy that can be made in n number of ways is the biggest factor affecting the quality of your knife.

The most common elements present in steel are Iron, Carbon, Chromium, Cobalt, Manganese, Nickel, Molybdenum, Tungsten, Vanadium.

The different types of knife making steel are stainless, titanium, ceramic, chromium etc.

There are four most popular and commonly used knife steels in the knife industry.

  • 1.The 400 steel
  • 2.The AUS Series
  • 3.The ATS Series
  • 4.SXXV Series:

420 steel: This commonly used type in the knife making steel. This contains 0.38 percent of carbon. Because of its low carbon content, it is softer than others and the edge doesn’t hold well. Blades made from this material need frequent sharpening. These knives are extremely rust-resistant. Due to this reason, these knives are mostly used by divers making it the best survival knife steel.

1095 Steel barstock for forging and knife making 1/8″ x 1-1/2″ x 12″ knife blade steel USA Made


425M steel: This is material from 400 series with o.5 percent of carbon content. This is not that great but not bad either. It is tough for its price.

440 steel: There are 3 types of 440 steel:

440A- Steel has the carbon content between 0.65-0.75 percent and is rust-resistant.

440 B- Carbon content in this knife between 0.75-0.95 percent and has better edge retention.

440 C- Carbon Content ranges between 0.95-1.20 percent and is higher end steel. It provides a good combination of hardness and rust-resistance. But it is  extremely expensive.

440C Stainless Steel Folding Knife


AUS series is made after the addition of Vanadium. This enhances the wear capacity and toughness. This steel is comparatively easier to sharpen and are declared as better knife sharpening steel.

AUS-6: This steel has 0.65 percent of carbon content. As compared to 420 it has better rust-resistance.

AUS 8: This steel has 0.75 percent of carbon and tough. This provides better edge-retention.

AUS-10: This steel has 1.1 percent of carbon content making this steel tougher as compared to 440C. Knives made from this material are generally tougher and rust-resistant.

ATS34 Steel: This is one of the best knife steel for a knife. The carbon content in this steel is 1.05 percent. This material is used in a lot of custom knives that are high-end. These knives are comparatively more expensive as they are considered to be the best and are excellent in metal.

ATS55 Steel: There is no vanadium content present as in ATS-34 and 154-CM. The carbon content is 1 percent. This is very less rust-resistant and doesn’t hold that well as compared to ATS34 Steel.

The knives of this series have good strength and very great rust-resistance. This steel holds an edge so well that other materials will seem a fail. The drawback is that they are difficult to sharpen. Knives of this category are very damage-resistant and suffer much less wear and tear.

S30V Steel: This steel is very tough but very much damage-resistant. The carbon content is 1.45 percent making it hard. The hardness of this material makes it the most prominent choice for the knife makers.

S60V Steel: This material has a major portion of vanadium and 2.15 percent carbon content which makes this material a tough competition in the feature of high rust and wear-resistance. But this material is not used frequently because the cost of manufacturing is too high as the material is much too expensive.

S90V Steel: The carbon content is the highest i.e.2.30 percent which makes this steel ridiculously hard and sharpening them is almost next to impossible. But this material has a fabulous edge retention capacity.